How to Enroll In the Right Dental Hygiene Program near Mountain Brook Alabama
Picking the right dental hygienist school near Mountain Brook AL is an important first step toward launching your new career in dentistry. But before you can make your selection, you need to assess and compare your school options. There is far more to completing your due diligence than choosing the program with the least expensive tuition or enrolling in the college that is closest to your residence. There are other significant issues to consider as well, such as the school's accreditation and reputation. Dental hygienists generally earn an Associate Degree, as compared to a certificate usually earned by assistants, and can take anywhere from two to three years to accomplish. Obviously with the prolonged training of a hygienist comes more cost. We will cover all of these factors and additional questions that you should be asking the dental hygienist colleges you are analyzing later in this article. But first, let's explore the roles of dental hygienists and the training programs available.
The Job of a Dental Hygienist
When comparing the duties of a dental hygienist to that of an assistant, the most significant difference is undoubtedly that the hygienist works more on their own. Dental assistants work with and assists the Mountain Brook AL practice and the dentists. Hygienists, while also assisting the practice, work with the patients more on a one-to-one basis. They are typically the first person a patient sees when called from the waiting area. They examine each patient's gums and teeth and report their results to the dentists. They also may perform basic procedures. Depending on state law, a hygienist's responsibilities can include:
- Removing stains, tartar and plaque
- Administering fluoride treatments
- Applying sealants and polishing teeth
- Educating patients regarding oral hygiene
- Taking and developing X-rays
- Applying fillings and removing sutures
In order to be licensed in almost all states, dental hygienists must have graduated from a Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA) accredited dental hygiene program. They must also pass the National Board Dental Hygiene Examination as well as any state licensure examinations. When they have completed these requirements they are considered fully licensed and may add the "RDH" designation to their names, signifying Registered Dental Hygienist.
Dental Hygienist Training Options
Because of the increased responsibility as compared to an assistant, dental hygienists working in Mountain Brook AL dental practices are normally required to hold an Associate Degree in dental hygiene rather than a certificate. These programs can take anywhere from two to as long as three years to finish and must be accredited by the CDA in virtually every state. They are offered in community colleges as well as trade and technical schools. And in addition to classroom studies learning the fundamentals of dental hygiene, there will be a clinical aspect to the training as well. Some programs also offer internships with local dentists or dental practices.
Online Dental Hygienist Training
Selecting an online dental hygienist program might be a viable option for getting your training. Just remember that the program will not be totally online, since there will be a clinical component to your training. But the balance of your classes will be accessible by means of your desktop computer in the convenience of your Mountain Brook AL home or anywhere else on your tablet or laptop. For those continuing to work while attending school, online dental programs make education a lot more obtainable. Many may even offer lower tuition costs than their traditional competitors. And added expenses such as for books, school supplies and commuting may be lessened also. The practical training can typically be completed at a community dental practice or in an on-campus lab. With both the clinical and online training, everything needed to obtain the proper education is provided. If you have the discipline for this style of education, you might find that enrolling in an dental hygienist online school is the right choice for you.
Topics to Cover With Dental Hygienist Programs
Now that you have decided to become a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook AL, you can start the procedure of comparing schools and programs. As we discussed at the opening of this article, many prospective students start by looking at the cost and the location of the schools. Perhaps they look for several online options as well. Although these may be important initial points to consider, there are several additional questions that you need to ask of the colleges you are looking at in order to make an informed decision. To start that process, we have included a list of questions to assist you with your due diligence and ultimate selection of the right dental hygienist school for you.
Is the Dental Program Accredited? There are a number of important reasons why you should only pick an accredited dental hygienist program. If you are planning to become certified or licensed, then accreditation is a requirement in nearly all states. To qualify to take the National Board Dental Hygiene Exam, your dental college must be accredited by the Commission on Dental Accreditation (CDA). Accreditation also helps establish that the instruction you receive is comprehensive and of the highest quality. Mountain Brook AL dental practices typically prefer or require that new hires are graduates of accredited schools. And last, if you are applying for a student loan or financial aid, frequently they are not provided for non-accredited programs.
Is Enough Clinical Training Provided? Clinical or practical training is a necessary component of every dental training program. This holds true for the online school options also. Most dental hygienist programs have associations with regional dental offices and clinics that provide practical training for their students. It's not only important that the school you choose offers enough clinical hours but also provides them in the kind of practice that you subsequently want to work in. For example, if you are interested in a career in pediatric dentistry, check that the college you enroll in offers clinical rotation in a local Mountain Brook AL dental practice that focuses on dental treatment for children.
Are Internships Available? Find out if the dental programs you are evaluating have internship programs. Internships are probably the ideal means to get hands-on, clinical experience in a professional dental practice. They make it easier for students to transition from the theoretical to the practical. They can also help students establish professional relationships in the Mountain Brook AL dentistry community. And they are attractive on resumes too.
Is Job Placement Assistance Provided? Many graduating students of dental hygienist programs require help getting their first job. Check if the schools you are researching have job placement programs, and what their job placement rates are. Schools with high job placement rates probably have excellent reputations within the Mountain Brook AL dental community as well as large networks of contacts where they can refer their students for internships or employment.
Are Classes Smaller? Find out from the colleges you are looking at how large typically their classes are. The smaller classes generally provide a more personal setting for learning where students have greater access to the teachers. Conversely, bigger classes can be impersonal and offer little individualized instruction. If feasible, ask if you can monitor a couple of classes at the Mountain Brook AL dental hygienist college that you are leaning toward so that you can witness first hand the level of interaction between students and teachers before enrolling.
What is the Entire Cost of the Program? Dental hygiene colleges can fluctuate in cost depending on the duration of the program and the amount of clinical training provided. Other factors, such as the reputations of the colleges and whether they are public or private also come into play. But in addition to the tuition there are other significant costs which can add up. They can include costs for such things as textbooks and commuting as well as school equipment, materials and supplies. So when comparing the cost of schools, don't forget to add all of the expenses related to your education. The majority of colleges have financial aid departments, so make sure to find out what is available as far as grants, loans and scholarships in the Mountain Brook AL area.
Are the Classes Convenient? Before enrolling in a dental hygienist college, you must make sure that the hygienist or assistant program furnishes classes that fit your schedule. This is particularly true if you will be working while acquiring your education and must go to classes near Mountain Brook AL at nights or on weekends. And even if you select an online program, you will still have to schedule your clinical training classes. Also, while making your inquiries, ask what the make-up policy is if you should have to miss any classes because of illness, work or family emergencies.
Pick the Right Mountain Brook Dental Hygienist Courses
Picking the ideal dental hygienist program is important if you intend to take the National Board Dental Hygiene exam or, if required in your state, become licensed. As you now know, there are numerous options offered to obtain your training and it takes a fairly short amount of time to become a dental hygienist. You can obtain your formal education through dental hygienist programs at community colleges, trade schools, vocational schools and technical institutes. Graduates of these schools usually obtain an Associate Degree. Dental Hygienists normally require approximately 2 years of studies prior to entering the job market. When earning a degree you can elect to go to classes on-campus or online. Whichever mode of training you choose to pursue, by addressing the questions presented in this article you will be in a better position to make the appropriate choice. And as a result, you will be ready to commence your journey toward becoming a dental hygienist in Mountain Brook Alabama.